Social Media: Everybody’s Doing It
As McDonald's' recent hashtag fiasco reminds us, even the seasoned social media user can find him or herself in the midst of a public relations nightmare if online marketing is not conducted with plenty of forethought and care. This makes having a set strategy for social media planning and implementation all the more important; the more you know going in, the less likely you are to make a mistake, or simply allow a half-hearted effort to languish, generating little or no return on investment (ROI).
We asked a few experts for their views on what's needed to achieve social media success.
1. Understand your goals, purposes, audiences and communities.
Ask yourself a number of questions before you build a presence on social media—you can't just jump in and expect people to catch you, our experts cautioned. Figure out who you are speaking to, what you hope to engage them with and on which platforms they are active. Bottom line: What do you want to get out of your social media strategy and how do you want people to think of you?
According to Dan Blank, publishing consultant and founder of We Grow Media, an effective social media strategy begins with how you approach your publication's campaign. "How are you going to be someone that is not just talking at people, but truly helping to engage them in a way that's beneficial to them?" he says.
Dave Kerpen, CEO of social media marketing form Likeable, agrees. "The most common mistake is talking at and selling [to] your audience instead of engaging with and providing value to them," he says. "It's not about you, it's about your customers."
Kerpen says the most important first step in any social media strategy is listening: "Mostly to your customers online, to find out what they want and need from you, but also to your competitors and your competitors' customers." Truly knowing what your customers want, he says, is the foundation of other key components: content creation, managing your community, managing your overall presence on each channel, integrating social media with other marketing efforts, and sales. (See sidebar.)